Not that you can’t be happy while you're single, but marriage has its perks when it comes to your health, according to science. For instance, marital living is credited with increasing your chances of survival of lung cancer, extending your life (especially if you’re a man) and improving bone health*. Now to add onto the list: Researchers claim that you’re more likely to recover from heart surgery if you’re married.
In a new study published in JAMA Surgery, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that people who were divorced, separated or widowed had about a 40 percent greater chance of dying or developing new disabilities after the first two years following cardiac surgery compared with married participants.
The researchers analyzed data on 1,576 participants who were 50-years-old or older and had undergone heart surgery. They noted their marital status, sex, age, existing illnesses and daily functioning ability, first after their cardiac procedure then two years after.
There isn’t a definite reason why the hitched see better outcomes after an experience as taxing on the body as heart surgery, but scientists seem to focus a lot on the social aspect, especially because spouses are typically the main if not only source of support and care. Loneliness and the stress caused by divorce or a spouse’s death could play a role, too (I mean, stress simply isn’t good for the heart).
The thing is, you’re not necessarily healthier just because you own a marriage license. In fact, if you’re in an unhappy or “ambivalent” marriage, it might negatively affect your health. For example, as reported in The New York Times, a University of Utah study found that “a marital fight that lacked warmth or was controlling in tone could be just as predictive of poor heart health as whether the individual smoked or had high cholesterol.” Another study that came out of Ohio State University found that couples who engage in harsh and hostile arguments are more likely to see their wounds heal more slowly than twosomes who handle conflicts in a more amiable matter. Finally, if you’re in an “ambivalent marriage” (not always great but not always bad), you just might be more prone to having higher systolic blood pressure.
So what’s a couple to do if they’re married and not reaping the health benefits of matrimony? Perhaps you can start watching sappy movies together, which according to a University of Rochester study has been tied to strengthening relationships (as effectively as therapy!).
*See Sources to learn more about the studies linking these various health conditions with marriage.
- Medical News Today: Married Lung Cancer Patients Have A Better Chance Of Survival
- Medical News Today: Married People Recover Better After Heart Surgery
- The New York Times: The Ambivalent Marriage Takes a Toll on Health
- The New York Times: Movie Date Night Can Double as Therapy
- Women’s Health: Bone health-marriage study